Fact Check

Pope Francis Disappears on Live TV, Explained

A video showed the pope go poof. Here's what happened.

Published Nov. 3, 2021

Pope Francis did not disappear or vanish into thin air on live TV in a TikTok or YouTube video from the Vatican on television. (Vatican News/YouTube)
Pope Francis did not disappear or vanish into thin air on live TV in a TikTok or YouTube video from the Vatican on television. (Image courtesy of Vatican News/YouTube)
Pope Francis disappeared on live TV.

On Nov. 2, 2021, a new TikTok video about "Matrix glitches" was posted that purported to show Pope Francis disappearing "into thin air" on live TV, seemingly vanishing while cameras were rolling. While the TikTok video itself was brand new, the three clips it displayed were all old.

The first two "Matrix glitches" in the video were about a briefcase that purportedly changed colors and a glass of water that moved on a Honduran TV broadcast. Both were explained in a previous fact check.

For the third clip in the TikTok video that showed Pope Francis seemingly disappearing, the voiceover said: "During a 2020 broadcast, Pope Francis seemed to vanish in thin air while stepping back inside after blessing the crowd."

We also found YouTube videos of the same moment, such as one titled, "Pope Francis disappears on live TV." Some used the words "vanishes into thin air."

Unfortunately, the truth was less exciting.

On April 13, 2020, Pope Francis presented the Regina Coeli prayer from the Vatican on the day after Easter Sunday. The moment came amid the beginning months of the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Vatican, during his remarks he specifically acknowledged the role of women in combatting the coronavirus.

The prayer appeared to be broadcast live and was later made available on YouTube. Pope Francis' prayer was also reported on by television news organizations across the world.

The clip in the TikTok video may have come from a local news broadcast by Kalamazoo, Michigan-based, WWMT-TV.


According to the video, it does look like Pope Francis disappeared for a brief moment at the 0:36 mark in the clip. However, readers might be able to tell that this was nothing more than a video editing mistake.

We found the full broadcast of the prayer at the Vatican. Beginning at the 15:22 mark in the following video, it's clear that Pope Francis did not disappear or vanish "into thin air."


All three "Matrix glitches" in the TikTok video may have been interesting. However, further examination showed that the truth of each clip was stretched for dramatic effect.


“Amid Pandemic, Christians Celebrate an Easter like No Other.” AP News, 20 Apr. 2021, https://apnews.com/article/health-ap-top-news-boris-johnson-international-news-virus-outbreak-ad1f35c9b7e2133d8b8ed11b3afa51a7.
Anoth3rDude. “The Pope Seems to Disappear into Thin Air.” r/DebunkThis, 14 Apr. 2020, www.reddit.com/r/DebunkThis/comments/g0x90c/the_pope_seems_to_disappear_into_thin_air/.
April 13 2020, Regina Coeli Prayer I Pope Francis. www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vY3W0CHo1d8.
“Briefcase Changes Color from Red to Green on TV, Explained.” Snopes.Com, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/briefcase-changes-color/.
“During Regina Coeli, Pope Francis Commends Women Caring for Others Amid Coronavirus.” NCR, https://www.ncregister.com/news/during-regina-coeli-pope-francis-commends-women-caring-for-others-amid-coronavirus.
News Channel 3 WWMT-TV. WWMT, https://wwmt.com/watch.
Pope at Regina Caeli: “Life Has the Last Word” - Vatican News. 13 Apr. 2020, https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2020-04/pope-regina-caeli-message-women-easter-resurrection.html.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.